I know that I am smitten with a place when I haven't left it yet and already I'm planning my return. Such is my sentiment with with Denver. It has enough of the things that resonate with me - slow food activism, bicycling, free public transportation in the main artery of downtown, beautiful outdoors, concealed shopping malls (I love it!), and in the winter, drivable distance to skiing in Vail or Breckenridge (and perhaps many other places!). A couple hours before leaving, I secretly thought that if my flight had a 24 hour delay, I really would not give a fuss. Rare.
The best idea I've conjured up on this speed-date with Denver is B Cycles. (Well, the decision to dine at The Kitchen is pretty amazing, too.) The upside for traveling for work is that all your expenses are paid. The downside is, well, when you're not working or catching shut-eyes, you only have a good four hours to play tourist. I have deduced some time ago that such occasions call for efficiency - by the pedal.
B Cycle is a bike sharing genius and how it works is, you "buy" a 24 hour membership onsite at a B Cycle location (they were all over Denver) for a measly $8. Think bicycle vending machine. The idea is, you have to return the bike to another B Cycle station in under 30 minutes, lest you get charged $1. This is perfect when you're zipping through city highlights because when you think about it, you don't need a bike inside the museum or when you're trying out local coffee (which is the premise of rentals by the hour). So for 24 hours, if you're really strategic, you can only amass $8 in transportation costs. Win-win, right? You save money, burn calories, zip through the city sights while circumventing traffic, without causing Mother Nature grief! Besides, I believe that people seeing other people on bicycles is quite inspiring. It's infectious. In fact, a cab pulled up next to us and said, "When I see (people) on bicycles, I get so jealous. I just want to jump out of the car and get on a bike!"
The bicycles are surprisingly comfortable and reliable. They're cruiser types with three gears, and in Denver, it doesn't really feel like you need more than that. If you're a safety freak, I must warn you that the rentals don't come with helmets and if you want one, you might be SOL. I suspect that there is no city ordinance banning cycling without helmets since you see this type of cyclist all over the metro.
Here's what can be seen in Denver in approximately three hours and a saddle:
And here's my raincheck list for that second date with Denver (with The Dutch this time):
1. More epicurean excursions
2. Walk (or jog!) Denver's Millennium Bridge
3. Hike or watch a show at Red Rocks Ampitheatre
4. Explore West Park neighborhood and City Park!
5. Ski Vail and/or Breckenridge :)
P.S. There only a limited number of cities Stateside where B Cycles exist, but if like me, you're an advocate, please petition for one in your city here.
P.P.S. Thank you again for all the warm birthday greetings! You all made my day!